News In Brief

Hoping to stem violence in the Middle East, President Clinton telephoned Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak about the possibility of attending separate meetings at the White House, US officials said. They stressed that Washington wanted to see progress in implementing agreements to try to quell the violence reached last week at a crisis summit in Egypt. But since that meeting, many more people have died or been hurt.

The National Security Agency issued a top-secret report warning of a possible attack against US targets in the Middle East, but it wasn't distributed until hours after the destroyer Cole was bombed in Yemen, The Washington Times reported. It quoted the NSA warning as saying that "terrorists," who were not identified, were involved in "operational planning" for actions against US or Israeli personnel or property. But at a congressional hearing, Army Gen. Tommy Franks testified the US had received no specific threat of an imminent attack in Yemen before the bombing.

AT&T officially announced it will break itself into four smaller companies - each of which will be separately traded. It also said it would pay reduced dividends in an effort to boost a stock price that has fallen 47 percent this year. The move to create consumer, business, broadband, and wireless entities marks the company's boldest reorganization since it separated into the "Baby Bells" in 1984. The restructuring plan, expected to be completed in 2002, is partly in response to falling prices in the long-distance industry.

A ban could be lifted against federal aid for groups performing abortions abroad after congressional negotiators struck an agreement Tuesday. The measure, part of a $14.9 billion foreign-aid bill, would not take effect until the next president assumes office, and he'd have the option of nullifying it. Still, lawmakers on both sides of the issue characterized it as a victory for abortion-rights advocates. Furthering such sentiment was a provision of $425 million for overseas family-planning programs, up from last year's $385 million and the first increase since Republicans won control of Congress in 1994. The measure had yet to be voted on by the full House and Senate, but passage was expected, as is Clinton's signature.

The space shuttle Discovery landed at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., wrapping up a 13-day mission that included a sizable construction project on the $60 billion International Space Station. The craft is scheduled to fly again in about four months to carry the second long-duration crew to the orbiting space station and return the first set to Earth.

In accordance with new federal law, crime statistics were being posted online for 6,700 colleges and universities. But since schools often compile the figures and define them differently, realistic comparisons may be difficult to make. Reports on the institutions may be called up one at a time at the Web site www.ope.ed.gov/security

New York Yankees pitcher Roger Clemens was fined $50,000 for throwing part of a shattered bat toward catcher Mike Piazza of the rival New York Mets in Game 2 of the World Series, two unidentified Major League Baseball officials said. The penalty matches the largest levied to date against a player; Albert Belle was fined the same amount for a tirade against a TV reporter during the 1995 World Series.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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